Tips on how to prevent tick bites, remove ticks & spot symptoms

Deer Tick
FILE - This March 2002 file photo shows a deer tick under a microscope in the entomology lab at the University of Rhode Island in South Kingstown, R.I. According to a new government study published Wednesday, July 15, 2015, the geographic areas where Lyme disease is a bigger danger have grown dramatically. U.S. cases remain concentrated in the Northeast and upper Midwest. But now more areas in those regions are considered high risk. (AP Photo/Victoria Arocho, File)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — As the tick population soars, doctors are spreading awareness about protection from the insects.

This follows the death of a Plainfield toddler who Riley Hospital for Children doctors say tested positive for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. That is a tick-borne illness. You may also be aware of Lyme Disease, although each is transmitted from different types of ticks.

24-Hour News 8 checked with the Marion County Health Department as well as all of the donut counties and found out there have not been any confirmed cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever other than the case involving two-year-old Kenley Ratliff. There are also no cases in Tipton County, where some social media posts were circulating this week saying otherwise.  Dr. John Christenson is a physician at Riley Hospital for Children. He says he’s received a lot of calls about tick concerns in recent weeks. He tells parents the most important thing is to be prepared.

“Protect yourself against them. We know that clothing works, we know that insect repellants work. Be prepared. Send the kids out into the yard prepared, rather than let them get bitten by a tick,” Christenson said.

If you or a family member is bitten by a tick, watch out for fever, a rash in the area of the bite or one that starts and the wrists and ankles and moves inward. Tick-borne illnesses can also include headaches and stomach pain, but that is again often paired with a prominent fever.

Doctors say if those symptoms pop up, you should seek medical attention immediately and tell them about the tick bite so they know to test for those illnesses right away.

If a tick is attached or imbedded in skin, doctors say do not use folklore remedies such as nail polish, Vaseline or heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible – not waiting for it to detach.

The CDC advise to instead use some tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick. That can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If that happens, try to remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you can’t get it out, just leave it alone and let the skin heal. After removing the tick, clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.

To dispose of a live tick, submerse it in alcohol, place it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flush it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.

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